Mini Review – Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant (Part 2) – The Near East

The second part of this tome (1200+ pages) is focused on the Ancient civilizations of the Near East; Egypt, Persia, Babylonia, Judea etc..

📝 “It is in the nature of an empire to disintegrate soon, for the energy that created it disappears from those who inherits it.”

📝 Persia was founded by a stoic people, but within a century it was destroyed by people binge-drinking and eating all day; “spending their geniuses on sauces and deserts” 🍰. What state is our current civilization in? 🤔

📝 Egypt: “Machinery was rare because muscle was cheap.”

📝 The hanging gardens of Babylon was considered considered one of the Wonders of the World. Legend has it that Nebuchadnezzar II had it build for his wife who was not used to the desert and longed for her lush homeland.

📝 There where thousands of Gods. With time minor deities merged and became mere aspects of major ones.

📝 In Judean prophets talked about the need to be moral rebirth. Jeremaya asked for circumcision of spirit as well as the flesh in his strange phrase: “Circumstance yourself to the lord, take away the foreskins of your heart.” 😂😂

⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

One theme that stood out to me is how civilizations raise from hard labour and sacrifice, just so that future generation can have it go down the toilet by forgetting these hardships and fall victim to hedonism. 💩 🚽

⭐️ TAKEAWAY 2:

The accounts of the religious believes in the different civilizations fascinates me to no end. How similar their stories are to ours and how much we still can find intact or reshaped in today’s religions.

⚖️ VERDICT:

Now we get into the meat of the book and it has taken on another rhythm. I have mixed feelings about this second part of book. It’s is still brilliant but it’s getting hard to retain the information. The problem might lie in the way the book is structured, using the same template to describe each civilization, one after the other, making it overwhelming.

Check out Part 1 for more in this review series.

What are you reading these days? 🤔

Instagram Photo credit: @cinefile_25 , @eruchdah

Find other amazing reads in my reading lists!

It’s Out of Control! What The Laws of Human Nature will do to your To-Read-List

Is your To-Read-List (TRL) growing faster the more effort you put into working your way through it? I know the feeling – and I feel it might be especially true for non-fiction readers.

Every good book opens up your eyes for new topics and bombards you with new exciting ideas of what to read up on next (as illustrated above 🤪), filling your TBR to the brink.

Today I’m presenting some new additions to my TRL, courtisey of the book The Laws Of Human Nature by Robert Greene.

📖 The Tigress of Forli by E. Lev 📖

Caterina Sforza, she seems to be such a bad ass warrior countess! Greene uses her as an example of how masculine/feminine aspects of one’s personality, when well integrated, leads to more authenticity. “In the theater of life, expand the roles you play.”

📖 Born Red by Gao Yuan 📖

Gao’s account of the Cultural revolution in China and how he and his fellow students “made revolution”. Greene uses this story as an example of how our personalities changes in a group context.

📖 Chekhov by Henri Troyat 📖

Chekhov, Russian play-write, is brought up by Greene as an example of how you can change your circumstances by changing you attitude. “He made a vow to himself: No more bowing and apologizing to people; no more complaining and blaming; no more disorderly living and wasted time.” Now I just want to know more about this exciting fellow!

What are you reading and what additions is that book adding to your To-Read-Lists? 🤔

Threats to our Creativity and Women Who Run with the Wolves

One of my favorite parts of this book revolve around the topic of self-sabotaging our own creativity:

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📝 “Some of the malevolent complexes’ favorite thieveries and punishments of women’s creativity revolve around promising the soul-self “time to create” somewhere of in the foggy future. Or promising that when one has several days in a row free, then the rumpus will begin at last. It’s hogwash.”

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This is just a way to suffocate the creative impulse further.

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Another great way of suffocating creativity is Only-iffing; Only if I had a such and such degree then my work would be decent. Only if I receive such and such thing…

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Many put their talents in the back burner:

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📝 “I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write…. and you know it’s a funny thing about house cleaning… it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman.” 🧹

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How do you nourish and protect your creative life? And if you don’t; How do you procrastinate? 🤔

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(And yes! A Review of Women Who Runs With The Wolves is coming soon!) 🐺

The Laws of Human Nature: Discover Your Dark Side

Recall Britney’s 2008 breakdown, Clinton’s sex affair and the behavior Nixon’s behavior in the White House before his resignation?

“When we experience those moments when people reveal their dark side, we see something come over their face; their voice and body language of altered— almost as if another person is confronting us, the features of the upset child suddenly becoming visible” – Robert Greene

Carl Jung called it The Shadow.

The Shadow consists of all the qualities we try to deny about ourselves and repress. You can try really hard to cover up these aspects but they will pop back up sooner of later. You can see glimpses of it showing from people in moments of stress.

“You can throw out Nature with a pitchfork, but she’ll always come back.”

Hiding The Shadow side of yourself takes energy. You must be adept to see when The Shadow is appearing in yourself and others.

The Shadow also tends to show more with age. “Later in life we tire of the masks we have been wearing, and the leakage is greater.”

I’ve started to study Jung but I haven’t read up on the concept of The Shadow yet. What I’ve got from The Laws of Human Nature is an introduction that left me wanting to know more – What reading do you recommend on the Shadow and Shadow work? Let’s confront our dark sides! 🤔

Thoughts on: “Building a Story Brand” by Donald Miller

Wow, this sucks! The book is just a long commercial for the authors other services and the concepts covered could have been a 15-page pamphlet.

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Wow, this is brilliant! It’s to the point, clear and actionable.

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Both these assessment are correct, depending how you look at it. But my intention when picking up this book was to learn something practical. And I did.

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You brands message should be simple, clear and, most importantly, packaged as a story where the customer is the hero.

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Many brands and marketers get some fundamental stuff wrong and puts the brand as the hero in their marketing instead of the customer.

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📝 Story in a nutshell:

“A CHARACTER (customer) who wants something encounters a PROBLEM before the can get it. At the peak of their despair, a GUIDE (you) steps into their lives, gives the a PLAN (your product), and CALLS THEM TO ACTION. That action help them avoid FAILURE and ends in a SUCCESS.”

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📝 WRONG: An example of doing it wrong was Tidal, Jay-z music service. The marketing made whining artists the heroes of the story instead of focusing on the customers needs.

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📝 RIGHT: And example of doing it right is Apple with the Mac. The customer is the hero facing a problem; Complicated computers that stands in the way of the customers creative expression! Apple has a plan for our hero, the Macintosh computer.

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📝 Story is the greatest weapon we have to combat noise, because it organizes information in such a way that people are compelled to listen.

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When you finish this book, given you’ve done the exercises, you will have a new brand script for your services or products that capitalize on the strength of storytelling (or on human weakness to stories, hehe!😈). The book left me inspired and equipped for taking stuff to the next level!

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

Since I don’t really have a product to sell I’m going to use the story brand method to improve my website (hehe, will be quite easy judging from the state it is in). I will do this next week. Another takeaway is how uncomfortable selling things makes me feel. I have a really hard time with it.

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4/5

Review (4/5) – Get the Book!

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Thoughts on: “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport

Could it be that more we focus on finding and following our passions the more discontent we become with our work? Cal Newport makes an argument that you should throw passion aside and get really good first, then passion will follow!

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So what makes for an rewarding career? Room for creativity, Impact and Control are some important factors – and how do you attain that? You GIIIT GUUUUD at something rare and valuable!

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📝 on Deliberate practice: “If you’re not uncomfortable, then you’re probably stuck at an “acceptable level”.

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📝 on Craftsman mindset: Focuses relentlessly on what value you can offer the world.

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📝 on Passion mindset: Focus on what the world can offer you.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAYS:

Make small bets. In the wake of Tim Farris “The 4-hour work week” tons of people quit their job to become bloggers with passive income streams from internet sites. Lifestyle design is cool and all, but many became disillusioned quickly and realize how hard it is to make money online. Make many small bets when you are transitioning into a new area of work instead of only one really big one.. Ask yourself what are people really willing to pay you for? And prove it. Some things will have to remain just a hobby.

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🔸VERDICT

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This is the perfect book for someone who just starting his/her career. But for the ones of us that have 15-30 years of work experience have probably already learned these things (maybe even the hard way), and have less to gain from this book. If that’s the case, then then study these books and concepts instead:

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📖 “Bhagavad Gita” about freedom from outcome.

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📖 “Mastery” by Robert Greene about being persistent.

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📖 “Outliers“ by Gladwell about deliberate practice.

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3/5

 

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Thoughts on: “The Expedition: A Love Story” by Bea Uusma

In 1897, three swedish scientists leaves for a polar expedition in a hydrogen balloon. Thirty years later they are found, by accident, dead on a deserted island. What happened to them and why did they die?

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The author, Bea Uusma (@bea_uusma ), gets obsessed by the subject and spends decades trying to find out what really happened. This is her account of what happened and the journey to uncover the last missing pieces of the puzzle.

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What I really loved about this book how each chapter uses very different narrative tools; diary entries from the crew, chart of data, maps, test results and research journals – This makes you feel like you are apart of an ongoing mystery investigation.

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📝 The hydrogen balloon leaked gas from the start. It was expected to last 30 days but it was useless after a day or two.

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📝 Sea charts of the Arctic region are just white. This goes on for page after page. Nothing exists there.

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📝 Eating the lever from of polar bears can lead to vitamin-a poisoning. The crew knew this and avoided it. The same goes for seals…but this they didn’t know!

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📝 After spending two weeks building a hut, the ice cracked underneath it and it had to be abandoned.

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📝 Polar bears can attack unprovoked. They can wander 100km a day on ice and a smell seals form 30km.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY: Freud mentions 3 main sources of human suffering; The external environment, our aging body and other people. This book reminds me of the relentless and brutish traits of nature untamed. Civilization (and with it; other people.) might be a cheap prize to pay for not having death lurking around every corner.

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4/5

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Thoughts on: “How to Live: or a Life of Montaigne” by Sarah Bakewell

Ah Montaigne! I’m glad I got to know you. You are now officially added to my list of peculiar historical men that fascinate me to no end – alongside Ben Franklin and Teddy Roosevelt.


He wrote 107 essays with simple titles like “of Friendship”, “of Cannibals”, “of Names” and “of Cripples”. He was an observer of the world but most of all he observed and wrote about himself.


📝 He was send out by his parents to be nursed by peasants as an infant in a weird attempt to create a bond with “the commoners” that he would one day need to help.


📝 His parents educational experiment continued; Montaigne was brought up as a native Latin speaker! A tough plan to put in practice since the were almost no native latin speakers around. The rest of the household spoke minimal or no Latin.


📝 “A man… should touch his wife prudently and soberly, lest if he caresses her too lasciviously the pleasure should transport her outside the bound of reason” Montaigne quoted Aristotle. Saying, basically, the conventional notion in those days that being a passionate husband would turn the wife into a nymphomaniac. 😂


📝 Pay attention!

As Montaigne learned, one of the best techniques for paying attention is to write about everything. Just to describe simple things in the world opens your eyes to how marvelous they are.


📝 “Still French was his language of choice”. His essays gives a weird reason for this: French could not be expected to last in the same way as the classical languages (I.e. Latin). This was freeing. If his writing was flawed, there was less pressure on him since the where doomed anyway.


📝 He was a big fan of Hellenistic philosophy; Stoicism and Skepticism in particular. Stoicism encourages wise detachment and skeptics held themselves back on principle. His motto was “What do I know?”.


📝 In “on cripples” Montaigne writes about a rumor that lame women are more enjoyable in bed, and as Aristotle before him, he speculates that it must be that “their vaginas are more muscular because they receive the nourishment of which the legs are deprived.”


It’s a fascinating biography even for the uninitiated! Now I just need to read his actual essays!


4/5

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Thoughts on: “12 Rules for Life” by Jordan B. Peterson

Life is suffering. How do we deal with that?! We face it, we bare it. Hell is a bottomless pit and even how fucked up and unfair things are, we still can make it even worse. Let’s not do that! What if We get our act together and instead are prepared to face suffering when it comes knocking? That’s the better path. And we all know where we fall short.

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Peterson puts the responibility of all the world and all of it’s suffering on the individual. “If we all lived properly, we will collectively flurish.” If we put ourselves in order, maybe we will do the same to the world?

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📝 Render the people you care about competent – not protected.

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📝 The poor and stressed always die first. “When the aristocracy catches a cold the working class dies in pneumonia.”

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📝 Routine is necessary, the stuff we do everyday needs to be automatized into stable and reliable habits so that they gain reliability and lose complexity.

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📝 Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.

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📝 “What you aim at determines what you see”. Choose your aim carefully!

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📝 “Why does it so often seem to be the very people standing so visibly against prejudice who so often feel obligated to denounce humanity itself?”

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📝 “As hard as it is to believe, a patient adult can defeat a two year old.”

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📝 Don’t blame your enemies, capitalism or the leftists. Don’t reorganize the state until you have ordered your own experience! Set your house in perfect order before criticizing the world.

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⭐️ Takeaway:

When I started reading this book we lay next to our son at bedtime until he had fallen asleep. This was not good. Now he goes to sleep alone after his bedtime story. He is now a more competent and independent being. Me and my wife has more time together in the evening. We are a stronger family now. This is good.

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Don’t let the title fool you, this is not a cheap self-help book. Not even close. This comes from a man that has been thinking thoroughly. I might not agree with all his conclusions but the least I can do is to follow Rule 9 and “assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t”. Loved it!

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5/5

 

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